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Baryon emission processes

The first possible decay mode of a strangelet would be to simply fission, or to emit a normal nucleus. This turns out to be energetically unfavorable since the energy per baryon in a strangelet decreases with A. This behavior comes as a direct consequence of the large surface tension and small coulomb energy as modeled above.

In contrast to nuclei, tex2html_wrap_inline318 particles have a very large binding energy per baryon. This makes it energetically favorable to decay via tex2html_wrap_inline318 emission. Energy is not the only consideration however. tex2html_wrap_inline318 decay will be greatly inhibited by the difficulty of arranging the quarks into an tex2html_wrap_inline318 particle, since in quark matter the quarks are not bound into hadrons. Even when this happens, the tex2html_wrap_inline318 must still overcome the coulomb barrier. As a result, tex2html_wrap_inline318 decay will only be important in strangelets which are otherwise stable.

Neutron emission is a much more pressing problem for an aspiring strangelet. Neutron decay will occur whenever tex2html_wrap_inline488 , where E is the total energy of the strangelet. The resulting lifetime would be typical of strong processes. Neutron emission could also occur via the weak interactions, but this flavor-changing weak process will of course be suppressed.

Since Z does not change in neutron emission, we can take a slice through the decay space at constant Z to examine the decay process. There is always a large stable region in this plane, and in general strangelets in one of the unstable regions will decay into the stable region. This will happen before the first baryon number conserving decays can occur.

Joshua Holden
Sun May 17 15:37:00 EDT 1998